by Melinda Gallo

Another approach to finding an apartment

The milanese (girl from Milan) gave me an idea last week when she talked about all the agenzie immobiliari (real estate agencies) that she was in contact with. I had seen some interesting apartments on a website and I asked my friend if she knew this particular agenzia immobiliare. She said that she didn't like the guy who owns the agenzia immobiliare and suggested that I not go there. I told my agente (real estate agent) #2 about what my friend said and she told me that I should go anyway.

I thought about what my agente #2 said and looked at his website again. I found a place that I wanted to go and see, so today I went to the agenzia immobiliare in person. I was going to call, but I thought it would be better to go and talk with them face-to-face.

I walked into the agenzia immobiliare, which is in a beautiful building on Borgo degli Albizi, right behind a man who was there for an appointment. I walked in and the girl behind the desk asked me what I wanted. I told her that I was interested in an apartment that I saw on the Internet. "Si accomodi. Torno subito." (Have a seat. I'll be right back), she said and walked into the next office.

The man next to me looked over at me and asked, "Di dov'è?" (Where are you from?). I responded with my usual answer and he smiled. "È una bella zona." (It's a nice place), I said just to make small talk. He talked to me about San Diego and then asked me which part of California I was from. I told him near San Francisco, which he told me he found "particolare" (particular/interesting).

I knew he wasn't from Florence because of his accent and his persistent use of Lei (the formal you) instead of tu (the familiar you), so I asked him where he was from and he told me that he was from Milan. I then asked him, "Le piace Firenze?" (Do you like Florence?). He responded, "No. È da tanto che sto qui, ma non mi piace. Sopratutto per il lavoro." (No. I've been here for many years, but I don't like it. Especially for work.) I was surprised that he didn't like Florence, but if he's talking only about his working life, I can understand. Milan is much more dinamica (dynamic) than Florence. It's a real businessmen's city while Florence can be a bit provincial to someone coming from a city like Milan. I did tell him, "Di solito sono i fiorentini a cui non piace Milano." (Normally the Florentines don't like Milan.) He smiled, but I don't think he found the humor in it.

The girl at the desk came back and said, "Mi dica." (Tell me). I asked her about the apartment I saw and if I could visit it. Before the girl could respond, the milanese (man from Milan) walked past me, put his hand on my shoulder, leaned in toward me, and said, "Se vuole un mutuo, mi chiami." (If you want a loan, call me.) He handed me with his biglietto da visita (business card) and I thanked him.

The girl at the desk started out with Lei, but after a few sentences began using tu. She too asked me, "Di dove sei?" (Where are you from?) After responding, I asked her, "Cambia qualcosa il fatto che non sono italiana?" (Does it change anything that I'm not Italian?) I kind of wanted to know just in case she had a good reason for asking me. It seems that everyone asks me, so I wanted to know if it would be helpful or not in renting an apartment. I'm pretty sure that it's a bonus for the proprietario (owner) because I've been told that they can evict us a little easier or maybe it's that Italians, I've heard, have a tendency of not paying and then squatting in apartments for long periods of time.

She said that the proprietario just likes lots of information about future tenants. I can understand that although when we rented out our house in California, that's probably the last question I think our property manager would ask, or even could ask.

She showed me the pictures of the apartment that I saw on the Internet and told me that it's a great place although she's never seen in it person. She asked me if I wanted to see it on Saturday or Wednesday. I opted for Wednesday because I'm a little rushed to find a place now. She said, "È un peccato perchè non verrei io mercoledì, ma sabato, sì." (That's too bad because I wouldn't come Wednesday, but Saturday, I would.)

I didn't know what to think about what she said because she seemed like a nice girl, but I didn't know why she'd want to visit the apartment with me. She said that her collega (colleague), whom I saw standing at the door earlier, would be the one to show me around.

I told her that I might be interested in other apartments, but she looked me up and down and said, "Penso che questo qui ti andrà molto bene." (I think that this one will be just fine for you.)

She gave me an appointment and wrote it down on her biglietto da visita for me. "Se prendi quel'appartamento, ci vediamo dopo per tutti i contratti." (If you take that apartment, we'll see each other afterwards for all the contracts.) She seemed pretty sure that I'd like the apartment and maybe she realized it. "Se per caso non ti va, torni qui e guardiamo altri appartamenti che abbiamo" (If by chance, you don't like it, come back here and we'll look at other apartments that we have.).

I thanked her for all her help and wished her a good day. I felt good about going to this agenzia immobiliare as my agente #2 had suggested. I did catch a glimpse of the owner and he seemed pretty normal to me. He was not that tall, rather thin, and still tan, and he seemed quite charming. I'm not sure what my friend saw in him, but she usually thinks most people hanno il puzzo sotto il naso (are stuck up), and maybe she saw his confidence for vanity. I, of course, didn't meet him, but I didn't have such an immediate reaction to him. He seems like any other man in this type of business: confident, outgoing, talkative, and charming.

I'm looking forward to the appointment on Wednesday especially since each time I'm given an appointment for a future date, the apartment is already taken. I hope it doesn't happen a third time!

Share your comments for this blog post on the Living in Florence's Facebook page. Grazie!